Has Catastrophic Weather Damaged Your Property?
Has your home been damaged by a tornado or some other natural disaster? You may need one or more contractors to repair the damage. You will need to submit a claim to your homeowners insurance company, and you should also have the services of a Texas storm damage lawyer.
Can the contractor who repairs your storm damage also help you with your property damage insurance claim? What is your recourse if your damage claim is rejected by your homeowners insurance provider? When will you need to contact a Texas property damage attorney?
Especially if you are a homeowner in this state, if you will keep reading this short discussion of contractors, storm damage, property insurance, and your rights as a Texas property owner, you will find the answers you may need.
What Can a Contractor Do?
Storm damage happens frequently in Texas. A 2021 winter storm caused damages worth billions and power outages throughout the state. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused damages totaling more than $125 billion.
After your property is damaged by bad weather in Texas, if a contractor tells you, “I will handle your losses and negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf,” you need to tell them you know contractors and roofers are not allowed to handle insurance claims for you. In Texas, only public adjusters or attorneys are allowed to represent property owners when dealing with insurance claim disputes and insurance coverage.
Texas lawmakers prohibit a contractor or roofer from negotiating and resolving a property damage claim for a policyholder. Your insurance company may choose to contact your contractor so that the proposed repairs are clearly understood by each party before the repair work starts.
However, homeowners’ insurance companies are not required by law to communicate with contractors, and in fact, an insurance company may ignore a contractor and deal directly with the policyholder.
What Does the Law Say?
If a contractor tries to negotiate your property damage claim with your insurance company, the contractor has acted as a public adjuster without a license. Texas law requires anyone negotiating a property insurance claim on a policyholder’s behalf to be a licensed public insurance adjuster.
No contractor may act as a public adjuster for a property where the contractor is providing repair services, even if the contractor is a licensed adjuster or if the policyholder authorizes the contractor to act on his or her behalf. Specifically, the law states:
“A contractor may not act as a public adjuster or advertise to adjust claims for any property for which the contractor is providing or may provide contracting services, regardless of whether the contractor holds a license under this chapter or is authorized to act on the behalf of the insured under a power of attorney or other agreement.”
Under the Texas Insurance Code, a contractor who violates this law may face an administrative penalty from the Texas Department of Insurance and/or a criminal penalty comparable to a Class B misdemeanor. A contractor who violates the law may also face a liability claim in civil court. They can lose their contractor’s license.
What Should You Do if a Storm Damages Your Property?
Property owners who have sustained significant property damage can avoid delays and mistakes by taking the right steps from the beginning. Document your damages (photos and video); cooperate with your insurance company and get them anything they ask for that you can reasonably get them. If you sense things are going south or getting delayed, feel free to contact a Texas property damage attorney with any questions about what should be happening.
As long as you have legitimate damages, an expert insurance claim lawyer will ensure that the proper documentation is submitted in the event the insurance company is rejecting your claim. Your lawyer will additionally ensure that no mistakes or misunderstandings on your part delay the processing of your claim or cause it to be denied.
Your homeowners insurance company may decide to settle your claim quickly and fairly when the company learns that a lawyer is working on your behalf. If you have questions about your contractor’s role, your attorney can help you decide to keep your contractor or find another one.
Suggestions for Contractors and Homeowners
Contractors in Texas should avoid words or conduct that will lead your prospective customers to believe that you will negotiate with their insurance companies. You may have to revise your brochures, website, contracts, damage report forms, and work authorization documents.
Texas homeowners who have suffered property damage should avoid contractors who make claims such as these:
- “We will document your property damage AND handle your claim for you.”
- “We will act as your advocate with your insurance company.”
- “We work with your insurance company to get you every dollar you are owed.”
What’s Important to Remember About a Property Damage Claim?
Texas has established a two-year statute of limitations for initiating any lawsuit related to the replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged property, but if your homeowners insurance company has denied your storm damage claim, don’t wait two years to speak with an attorney.
As mentioned above, you should contact an attorney as soon as your property damage claim was rejected or underpaid or delayed unreasonably. If the event that damaged your property is more than two years old, you may still qualify in time to beat the statute of limitations. A Texas storm damage lawyer will provide you with personalized legal advice.
Your first legal consultation with a storm damage lawyer is provided free of charge with no obligation. In fact, you will never pay anything out of pocket to our law firm unless and until your property damage claim is paid by your homeowners insurance company and the insurance company will cover the attorney’s fees IF they breached your insurance policy.
In some cases, a Texas court may order an insurance company to pay a homeowner’s attorney’s fee along with the damage claim. A storm damage attorney will review the details of your claim, give you personalized advice, and explain how the law applies in your own situation.
An Attorney at Flores & Pelaez-Prada Will Fight on Your Behalf
The vast majority of insurance claim disputes between policyholders and insurance companies over damage claims are resolved out of court, but if your only option is taking the insurance company to court, your lawyer will advise you on the best way forward based on your specific situation because each claim is different.
The attorneys at Flores & Pelaez-Prada know how to recover damages, and we have a proven record of success on behalf of our clients. We are licensed in state court, and all federal courts in Texas. We have the resources to go up against the largest insurance companies in the world. We represent property owners throughout the State of Texas with property damage claims based on bad weather events and other natural disasters.
To learn more about your rights after you’ve sustained property damage – or to begin the legal process – call the law offices of Flores & Pelaez-Prada at 855-786-7674. Having a lawyer in your corner will only benefit you.